Much of the Internet is awful, everyone agrees, though people disagree about exactly which parts are the bad ones. This becomes a problem when you need to venture into one of the bad places, perhaps to search a game's Steam forum for a solution to a problem. Oh no! Now you're wading through a swamp swarming with alligators cussing you to the nines when all you want is an .ini file tweak. Good news: Valve now plan to start actually moderating the forums they require Steam games to have, rather than leaving it all to devs. Next week, Valve's own moderation team will start checking out Steam Discussion posts reported by other posters and laying down the law. Though devs can decline Valve's help if they want?
From Tuesday the 25th of September, Valve's own moderation team will start investigating posts reported on all game's hubs, so the plan goes, and warn or ban or digitally murder users when appropriate. Valve moderators will only review posts which have been reported by other users, handling specific potential infractions rather than the far larger task of trying to grow a good forum culture.
"Don't worry: We won't be actively perusing your community discussions or posting in threads - you have your own voice and your own style of communication with players about your game," Valve said in the post, which is aimed at developers who sell games on Steam. "We'll only be communicating with players if it's necessary when issuing a warning or ban for reported content."
Developers can opt out of Valve's moderation if they want. Perhaps some would rather handle it themselves, having full control and responsibility over what happens in their name. Others might enjoy the wild 'come one, come all, shout anything' atmosphere.
Valve's expanding team of moderators already cover other things users post on Steam, including screenshots and reviews (a role I hadn't even noticed because so many awful ones are still online?), but so far have steered clear of individual games' forums.
"In the past, we've been hesitant to get involved in the moderation of individual game discussions, as we didn't want to step on the toes of game developers that want to have their own style of communication with players and their own set of guidelines for behavior," they explained. "But over time, we've been hearing from more and more game developers that would actually prefer for us to take a more active role in discussion boards, at least to the extent of handling posts that are reported by other players."
Which makes sense. Devs who value their Steam forum might still rather use their time for tasks other than moderation. And Steam helpfully creating forums for devs does also saddle them with a space which will reflect badly on them if it fills with awful people. Which--turns out--often happens online in the absence of active moderation.